Gokarna Forest Resort is not a place you’d go to to eat. The 18-hole golf course and one of the last remaining native forests in Kathmandu Valley are its main attractions.
But the Durbar Restaurant is billed as something royal and ‘fit for kings’. That description may be a bit of a stretch as we learnt on a recent visit to sample the restaurant’s most popular dishes.
Engaged as we were in the chef’s pre-prandial chitchat, we did not realise how much time had already passed before the first dish, the sweet corn soup (Rs 325), was brought to the table. Though there was the natural flavour of garlic it wasn’t something to get the tastebuds over-excited about -- especially for spice-loving Nepalis.
Perhaps the soup simply fit in with the overall ambience of the restaurant, which was empty when we visited -- as are most restaurants in post-earthquake Nepal. A throng of conference-attendees did arrive a while later, we guess probably for a seminar on post-disaster planning.
The Caesar Salad (Rs 375) was smooth, with tender pieces of chicken, this time generously seasoned, along with an excellent beat-root paste on the side which finally got the buds tingling. The croutons, however, could have been done better: the cubes did not feel crunchy enough.
One of the restaurant's strengths lies in its presentation of the items in the menu. Almost all of the dishes were great visual treats and it felt a bit sacrilegious to be ruining the get-up by eating them. Smoked salmon canapé in this plate of bruschetta (Rs 375) were striped beautifully with caramelised balsamic vinegar. The visual mastery did not always translate into gastronomic achievement, it must be said. But, hey, looks count. The smoked salmon topped with mayonnaise was reasonable, but lacked the richness of flavour and taste one would expect from this popular antipasto.
Pics: Arpana Upadhyay
The wine-glazed chicken (Rs 650) shared the same problems with the bruschetta. While it tasted decent, it wasn’t extraordinary and was a bit flat -- as if the marinating juices had not penetrated the fowl's tissues.
In the end, we were treated to the cake of the day, raspberry cheese cake (Rs 380) in which the sauce overwhelmed the cheese but it hit the right note.
It has to be pointed out that dining at Durbar Restaurant should be part of a whole-day visit or even a weekend retreat amidst the verdant greenery, classy golf course and indoor pool areas of this resort.
Gokarna also has a spa with excellent massage facilities. Tucked away at the north-eastern fringe of the Valley, this former royal hunting reserve is a destination in its own right.
The Durbar Restaurant, with its seclusion and privacy, is an additional reason to visit.
How to get there: head to Gokarna Resort on the way to Sankhu and find Durbar Restaurant.
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